Go Private: All The Benefits of Privacy in Belize during COVID-19

by Carolee Chanona
Rum_Shack-98 breakfast beach belize private

They say the best things in life are free, although I rather use the word priceless. For example, my mind wanders to the day’s first gaze of the flare of the rising sun as it paints the Caribbean Sea a passionate orange—a heady cup of coffee in hand convincing me of all the adventures ahead. I step out from my overwater cabaña—which I travelled an hour from Belmopan to Dangriga, and another 30-minutes by boat to enjoy on Tobacco Caye for—in search of fry jacks. Still swiping sleep out of my eyes with only hovering Brown Pelicans keeping my company (besides the on-site staff), I realize how priceless this seemingly private experience truly is in Belize, sometimes taken for granted as Belizeans.

Overwater cabañas on Tobacco Caye. © Duarte Dellarole Photography

As of Mar. 1, Belize’s COVID-19 cases have dramatically decreased over the past few months, reporting daily new cases in the low teens or less, with an overall positivity rate averaging the same. Nonetheless, there’s soaring demand for extra breathing room, everywhere. Private options may be the answer when you choose to fly, stay or sail next, and we’re taking you through all the benefits of privacy in Belize.

In the Air: Private Charter Flights

Maya island air private charter

Photo courtesy Maya Island Air

As the travel community gets back out in the world, the obvious, most significant desire is to avoid any swathes of strangers. While flying privately into Belize’s international airport—the Philip Goldson— is one thing, we’ll be focusing more on the short hops in country. There’s two options to fly privately, each with its own pricing structure. Of course, convenience and control are the greatest benefits of flying privately. Essentially, you can fly direct, and on your own schedule—plane availability, plane size, and approved time slots, permitting—direct to your private stay or next adventure.

Helicopter transfer

Private transfer, perhaps? Photo (pre-covid) courtesy Ka’ana Resort

While local airlines, like Maya Island Air, have sought to assuage fears by touting new safety and sanitation measures under Belize’s Gold Standard Program, they’ve also boosted their own protocols, enacting the same policies, and then some. Take the very same Maya Island Air—they’ve implemented regular Ozone & UVA light treatments plus disinfectant treatments on all high-touch points between every flight; inserted an airline grade, flame-resistant plastic barrier between pilot and guests; and enacted a contact-tracing system for each passenger. Chartered flights for up to 5 persons start at US$1250 roundtrip with Maya Island Air. But, if you’re hoping to go elsewhere in Belize without a landing strip per se, bask in private bliss with your very own helicopter charter.

At Sea: Private Catamaran or Yacht Charter

Ranguana beach caribbean belize yacht privacy

Docking offshore Ranguana Caye. Photo courtesy Dylan Hetelle Photography

Sailing is ideal for friends or families looking to make the most of Belize’s marine offerings—ticking off must-see spots, while making memories along the way. Besides, 2020 has taught us to be flexible: itineraries are tailored to you. With a private charter, each charter day awaits with new surprises of vibrant marine life, barefoot perfect beaches, and hidden-away treasures. Charter companies, like XSite Belize Sailing & Adventures‘ catamaran services, have added additional safety measures to their catamarans, too, thanks to being Gold Standard Certified. There’s frequent UV sanitization along with extra cleaning regiments. There are daily temperature checks for everyone on board.  After all, Belize opened its maritime borders for yachting tourism as of February 2021.

On The Ground: Private Villas

For some travelers, a private villa close to town or affiliated with a resort provides the perfect combination of exclusivity and access (to restaurants, coffee shops, yoga classes, etc.). Others prefer staying someplace further flung, opting for more of a vacation home with fewer amenities or a lavish villa with every convenience under the sun. For the latter, there’s more than one private dwelling options at Turtle Inn, a Coppola Hideaway in Placencia, Belize. Pictured, Sofia’s Beach House is a one-of-a-kind modernist-tropical hideaway just steps from the Caribbean Sea, which shares a beach and all the luxury amenities of Turtle Inn. Comprised of an open-plan main house and two guest bungalows, the Beach House opens to the ever-present sea breezes while connecting to the romantic, Balinese-styled hideaway it adjoins. Sofia Coppola herself social distanced in Belize for months on end during the pandemic—which is all the endorsement one would need.

For maximized privacy, one may also consider Francis’ Family Pavilion, the exclusive Balinese-inspired pavilion on the southern edge of the property and surrounded on three sides by a high walled garden. Both options feature private luxuries, like an on-call butler and your own private pool.

Header photo courtesy Muy’Ono Resorts/Duarte Dellarole.

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